Journal of Air Law and Commerce

ORCID (Links to author’s additional scholarship at ORCID.org)

Pablo Mendes de Leon: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3918-0235

Jin Choi: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1659-5382


Passenger protection will continue to ask for attention. The involved bodies and persons include policymakers and legislators, media, courts, compliance departments of airlines, law firms, consumer protection organizations, and airports. All parties must announce the conditions for such protection on their premises. In 2020, around 50% of all cases in the Netherlands, around 4,000 to 5,000 claims submitted to the lower courts, concerned passenger protection in aviation. In the Republic of Korea (Korea), these numbers are more limited but still significant; that is, around 2,500 claims form the aggregate number presented to Korean courts and Korea’s Consumer Protection Agency.

The complexity of these cases is caused by the differentiated conditions under which protection measures are expected by and provided to passengers in conjunction with the various legal layers under which remedies must be afforded to them. Such layers concern global treaties; regional and domestic regulations; and conditions of carriage drawn up by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and implemented by member airlines. Last but not least, all of these legal tools have been explained by courts in all parts of the world with differing interpretations of these rules.

For these reasons, this Article is entitled “Opening Pandora’s Box.” Lifting the ceiling of this box—which contains conditions, rules, remedies, and court decisions—reveals sources of great and unexpected troubles. We have made an attempt to open that box in this Article.

The continued magnitude of claims presented to Korean courts and the Consumer Protection Agency calls for a fresh light to be cast on this subject. This Article will examine the legal situation surrounding these issues by exploring the law in the following aspects. Part I of this Article will discuss the global umbrella regulations governing passenger protection. Parts II and III explore zealous Korean initiatives in passenger protection and the long and winding road in the European Union (EU). Part IV presents concluding remarks.

We conclude that the passenger protection regimes in Korea and the EU are among the most developed in the world. The Korean model is more detailed and specific than its European counterpart; however, passenger rights are more vigorously enforced by courts and other bodies in the EU States. Moreover, we analyze the compatibility between decisions made by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) and global regulations pertaining to airline liability.



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